Is credibility of OPSC at stake after irregularities in OAS paper evaluation?

Cuttack: Call it callousness of the evaluators or lackadaisical attitude of the Odisha Public Service Commission (OPSC), the future of aspiring OAS officers in the state seems bleak. Reason, alleged irregularities  in the evaluation of answer sheets of Odisha Administrative Service (OAS) Examination. One such irregularity has come to the fore  after a student raised doubts about not being able to make it to the merit rank.

According to the student Rajat Mishra of Dhamnagar in Bhadrak district, he had appeared the test in 2015 but could not make it to the final merit list despite doing well in the mains and the interview round. Surprised, he filed an application before the Commission to get a copy of his answer sheet to see what went wrong. Though he got a delayed response after a year, he was shocked to find that the mark awarded to him in the sheet (117) was later changed to 50 without citing any reason. This low mark had likely led to his rejection from the merit list.

Though Rajat knocked the doors of the OPSC to know the truth behind the reduction in his marks, he did not get any help. So when he moved the General Administration department, the OPSC had reportedly said that due to shortage of staff the answer sheet was provided late and also clarified that the Chief Examiner has cut down his marks.

“I could get the answer sheet only after the 2016 OAS result was declared. Though, the examiner had awarded 117 in the answer sheet, the mark was later changed to 50. This raised doubts in my mind and I sought help from the government,” said Rajat. He was also marked as absent in the final list, which was then changed and his marks were indicated in the space.

Not only this case, presence of several lapses like haphazard changes in awarded marks, full marks to candidates in Viva voce (some had got 250 out of 250), recommendation for rechecking of rejected answer sheets, award of marks to candidates in the merit list who were absent have now sparked concerns among the aspiring candidates and educationists.

Meanwhile, after the incident came to the fore, educationists have raised questions on the seriousness of the commission.

English Professor Brajmohan Mishra said, “When the marks are changed, it must be clearly mentioned on the answer sheet that it has been re-examined and re-evaluated. But surprisingly nothing has been mentioned in this case. Such drastic change in marks creates suspicion.”

Expressing similar views educationist Kamala Mohapatra said, “If  answer sheets of such an important examination is evaluated in such a manner, it is injustice and a human rights violation. As this is a serious allegation, I hope that OPSC will carry out its work with much more transparency.”

Despite repeated efforts, the OPSC comments could not be obtained. An email sent to the OPSC authorities was also left unanswered.